Rachael Ray is rolling out yet another Food Network show, but for a change she’ll be behind the cameras only. Ray and husband John Cusimano are expanding their production company Watch Entertainment with Viva Daisy!, a daytime cooking show hosted by Daisy Martinez of PBS’ Daisy Cooks!
Food has given Viva Daisy! a six-episode order, with a full season likely if the show is a success. Premiering Jan. 10 at 9:30 a.m. as part of Food’s “In the Kitchen” block, it will feature Martinez revealing tips and tricks for creating Latin-inspired dishes.
Ray already hosts and serves as executive producer on her daily syndicated talk show The Rachael Ray Show (Janet Annino is the showrunner for Rachael Ray, with Watch, Harpo and Scripps as production partners on the syndie) and three active shows on Food Network, including mainstay 30 Minute Meals. That is in addition to her numerous cookbooks, consumer products and magazine, Every Day With Rachael Ray.
Ray, whose career skyrocketed with the success of 30 Minute Meals and shows such as $40 a Day, says she hopes to be a part of creating the next generation of television talent. “I just get excited when I meet people with new careers or long-standing careers that I feel at all akin to, and I want to be a part of paying it forward in bringing up the next Rachaels, or Roberts, if you will,” Ray says.
Cusimano, who serves as president and co-founder of Watch, says this is the latest expansion of the Rachael Ray brand. “Rachael is only one person and there are only so many episodes of TV she can make a year, so we thought a much more efficient way of doing things would be by producing other talent,” he says.
The jump to producing for Ray comes as no surprise to Bob Tuschman, senior VP of programming and production for Food Network. “Any free seconds she has, she is jotting down ideas on napkins, menus, whatever is around her for editorial, content for style, for evolving the shows, new ideas for specials; her brain never stops working,” he says. “It was a quick and easy leap for her to make; she was already a producer in our mind.”
And Ray has high hopes for her new project. “I called [Food Network President] Brooke Johnson and we had a nice meeting with Bob Tuschman and some of the peeps over there, and we brought Daisy with us and she just lit up the room,” Ray says. “What I love about Daisy is her accessibility factor; if you don’t have a Latin-American heritage, it can be very foreign to an American audience. I think she makes it fun and easy.”
For now, Watch is focusing primarily on developing food, travel and lifestyle shows, though Cusimano says that it will likely expand into other sectors in the future. “We have nothing signed yet, nothing committed to yet, but we are definitely in talks with a lot of different talent,” he says. “Some of it is cooking shows, some of it is lifestyle, and there are even some ideas that we are thinking about that have nothing to do with cooking or travel or lifestyle—completely unrelated to anything that you would expect from Watch.”
Watch plans on giving Rachael’s home cable network first crack at projects coming down the line. “Initially, our first stop is going to be with Food and Scripps Networks because we have a relationship there and we know them,” Cusimano adds, “but if we need to make other stops after that, then that’ll happen.”
By Alex Weprin — Broadcasting & Cable, 12/8/2008